Qume CrystalPrint Publisher II. (laser printer) (evaluation)
by Peter Scisco
For all-around home office printing, whether text or graphics based, Qume's personal Post-Script-compatible printer makes a sizeable contribution to your productivity without destroying your bottom line. Its six-page-per-minute speed doesn't really rival the speed of other printers serving this market, but the overall print quality is superior to that of many lower-cost lasers. Add to that the ease with which you can switch from HP emulation to PostScript printing and you have the makings of a solid performer.
I've experimented with a lot of printers over the last six years, which means I've suffered through countless installation agonies and false starts. The CrystalPrint was no better or worse than most laser printers. You have to handle the drum kit and toner accessories with care and be careful to read all of the instructions. Like most of its cousins, this laser printer could have used a quick installation guide comprised of very clear instructions and plain illustrations. I've yet to discover why so many manufacturers of such complex equipment don't include these guides. Using the owner's manual, I had the printer up and running in a couple of hours, which included skimming the documentation to familiarize myself with the printer's basic operations.
Once online, the crystalPrint lived up to all my expectations, and the some. Text printing was clear and quick--I had no problems configuring the system to produce XyWrite and GrandView text files. Using the HP emulation mode and Ensemble, I was able to print graphics and type is a variety of styles and faces with ease. Printing benchmarks performed for COMPUTE's Test Lab clocked an 80K Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet at three minutes and 49 seconds.
Switching to PostScript emulation is made easy by means of a front-panel LCD display menu that guides you through a well-designed menu tree. I switched from HP to PostScript on my first try without having to go back to the manual for help. Once in PostScript mode, I printed several designs and layouts composed in PageMaker and CorelDRAW. The CrystalPrint's output was extremely clear and sharp. A separate Test Lab benchmark rated the speed of PostScript printing at 15 minutes and 6 seconds for a four-page GEM-based graphic design. A second design, a two-page GEM-based newsletter, was rated at 4 minutes and 43 seconds.
Paper-handling features consist of a single 100-page paper tray and manual feed. The CrystalPrint will handle regular-size paper, as well as legal size, mailing labels, envelopes, and transparencies. It prints in landscape and portrait modes.
If your office at home is like mine, you're constantly battling for space. The CrystalPrint is fairly compact for a personal laser print. I do wish, however, that the engineers had devised a "quite-mode" for times when the printer wasn't in use but was switched on. I found the idle noise level distracting within the confines of my small office.
Still, the CrystalPrint is a welcome addition to the home system of anyone looking for the best in printer output. Not everyone requires PostScript-quality graphics, or even laserprinter quality. But if you do, then this printer's easy versatility and excellent output quality make it a prime candidate for you.